Wednesday, December 16, 2015

God Damn Microtransactions

Extended Title: Holy shit, not one day after Destiny adding more egregious microtransactions to their game, Activision announces "Call of Duty Points" God damn microtransactions, god damn Activision. 

Oh, Destiny, I love you, but I also hate you. In October, you added something to your game that I hate more than most things: Microtransactions. I've written about them before, and I'm sure you all know that I hate them. Silver (Destiny's microtransaction currency), at first, were just harmless emotes, not too bad, something I can look passed, but, hardcore Destiny players are too quick to jump to the defense of these microtransactions. Face it, microtransactions in this game have become progressively more terrible. Starting out with exclusive emotes, then moving on to sparrows/quest items, now to a level boost. I feel a pattern coming on, soon enough, Destiny will go Pay-To-Win or Fee-To-Pay. Adding a $30 microtransaction that allows new players to skip well over half of the content Destiny has to offer is pointless and egregious. There is no reason to pay to skip quality content. I really see this leading to something worse and I have said that before. There is no reason to include microtransactions in a game's development plan, other than greedy publishers who want to squeeze more money out of their loyal player base.

Really, Activision? This is bad as if annualizing wasn't already hurting Call of Duty (an admittedly good shooter), this will hurt it further. Of course, like most microtransactions, you can earn the loot you'd buy with them by playing the game, but come on, microtransactions exist because the devs want players to buy them; they're not there to get ignored. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Open World Games

Extended Title: Open World Games, sometimes they're great, other times they're so large it's easy to get burnt out, and that isn't so great. 

Now, if you're reading this, you've likely heard of, if not played The Witcher 3, and if you haven't played I strongly urge you to. It is a sprawling open-world action RPG with in depth characters, fast, fluid combat, and great stories. But, is it too large? 2015 has undoubtedly been the year of open-world games (Fallout 4, Just Cause 3, Dying Light, among others), and while these games are fine, I think I'm getting a little burned out. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as these games are fun and engaging, I just feel like there is a little too much to do. Sidequests on sidequests, along with main quests, gear scavenger hunts, collectibles, and other things. If you could only buy one game to play for the rest of your life, this is definitely high up on that list.

Fallout 4, arguably one of the most anticipated games of all time, is one of the most in-depth RPG we've had this generation. The RPG mechanics, weapon and armor crafting, and the city-building aspect, among other things, make up the meat of the game. With a sprawling open world filled with different easter-eggs, a variety of different enemies, and emergent gameplay galore, there is definitely something for everyone in this game. My problem with this game is the same reason why everyone is so attracted to it; it's size. There is so much to do that it is hard to focus on one thing. First I'll say to myself "I'm gonna start this quest and finish it" next thing I know, I'm climbing to the top of a skyscraper that has nothing to do with what I had planned, this, by no means, is a bad thing, though. The game is massive, and it is a really good game, to an extent, but there may be too much to do, in my opinion.

Dying Light, the newest zombie slaughtering game from Techland is a very fun game. The combat is brutal and the parkour-based movement is intuitive and fast paced. Despite the good gameplay, I still fell out of the game some time after I started playing. This can be mainly attributed to sidequest design, I do not care about picking up 25 herbs for some random person I met 2 minutes ago. Quests, for me, have to feel meaningful; fetch quests are generally not good game design, and really feel needless in the context of the game.

Hideo Kojima's crowning jewel, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the biggest games we got this year. Essentially an "emergent gameplay simulator", the game is not lacking content or fun. This is my problem with the game, though, the "content" there is likely something that you have done already or, at least, similar to something you've done in an earlier part of the game. There are so many side quests, main quests, and general things to do that it is very easy to get distracted -- again, not a bad thing, as having a lot to do is actually good. The game lost me after about 20 hours of play and, having not made any real progress, I decided it wasn't worth my time.

Open world games, though resplendent with content and fun, are, at least in my eyes, getting harder and harder to play. A large amount of games released this year were open world games, and though none of them were necessarily bad, having too many of these games leads to market saturation, and eventually burn-out. I love open world games as much as the next guy, the depth and sense of exploration (if done well enough, that is) these games offer is unmatched by any other form of media, but come on devs, I know you have ideas that aren't huge open worlds, change it up a little bit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Console Wars

Why the "Console Wars" Are Actually Kind of a Good Thing
Which console to choose has been a heated debate since Sega v. Nintendo, and we know who won that battle... The "wars" we see today are Xbox v. PlayStation v. Nintendo v. PC, and from what I see, there is no clear winner. Each has their ups and downs, their goods and bads, but no company (PC isn't a company, so I guess go with Steam) is under duress to sell more consoles or make better games, they're all thriving in the current industry, despite all having their "fanboys/girls" and radicals who say one is superior to the other. But the console wars go far beyond "Well this console has X game" or "X console has better graphics than Y console".

The console wars we know, (Nintendo vs. Sega) started in the early 80's, after the "video game market crash" - there were too many terrible consoles coming out, so the market was crowded and inflation set in. That crash, from what I know, is the only downside to the console wars, and that will never happen again, as Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have the market dominated to the point where no new consoles can enter the industry effectively, look at the Oouya and how disappointing that was (well, they got Towerfall first, and that game is fantastic, so I guess there's that).
The hottest debate nowadays is the Xbox One vs. PS4, each, as I stated earlier, have their ups and downs, but it seems the PS4 is outperforming the Xbox this generation, at least sales-wise. That isn't all people look at when it comes to buying a console, though, other things, like friends, console exclusives, and personal preference are all things to take into account. The biggest effect on the industry as a whole, though, are the console exclusives. These exclusives are seemingly bad, at least for a fan base, take Tomb Raider, for example; a long time PlayStation-centric game was made into an Xbox exclusive. Though only for a year, people are still displeased, I, for one, am not, though. I think this is a good thing, as it is a product of competition. Sony has their Uncharted, Xbox needs their Tomb Raider. Each Uncharted has built on one another, and Xbox never had an equivalent, so they took what was good about Uncharted and made it into their own thing, a Tomb Raider reboot. There is a competition between these two series, and competition breeds excellence. Though a game being exclusive can suck, overall it is better for the gaming industry.
Historically, the console wars have helped the gaming industry in a big way, it has helped evolve the consoles, whether it be how we have seen - in the short amount of time the gaming industry has been around - graphics in games move from polygonal characters and "muddy" textures to what we see now, almost lifelike games or how the consoles have sold better and better over the year, the PS4 and Xbox One are on track to be the two best-selling consoles of all time (currently held by PS2 and Nintendo DS respectively). Over the years, gaming has evolved in a big way and gained popularity, largely to gamers having a choice, whether it be Nintendo, PlayStation, or Xbox. This growth can (probably) be at least partly attributed to the competition of the consoles, each generation iterating on the last and making the newer console bigger and better. This competition has truly bred excellence, as with this generation we got the most powerful consoles we've had yet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dev Does Not Necessarily Gaming

Extended Title: Dev Does Not Necessarily Gaming: Why Supporting Your Favorite Creators Is Important in Today's Gaming Industry. 

I've written about Kickstarter before, in the early days of this blog. Since then, my experience with Kickstarter and other crowd-funding sites has expanded to the point where I feel like writing about why it is one of the best ways for indie game devs, independent content creators, and even small companies to get into an industry.

Recently, I have backed a few Kickstarter projects -- Allison RoadFriday the 13th: The Game, and Labyrinth, Collectible Card RPG -- two of which have been a success, Allison Road got picked up by a developer, and Friday the 13th got fully funded. Labyrinth, though not fully funded, is looking like it will hit its goal before the end of the campaign. I also back a few people on Patreon -- The Comedy ButtonJim Sterling, and Kinda Funny Games -- all of those people/channels I watch on a daily basis, so why not help them out?

Kickstarter, Patreon, and other crowd-funding websites are some of the biggest ways you can support your favorite creators or take a chance and put your faith (read: Money) into a developer with a cool idea. Without Kickstarter, we wouldn't have got Pillars of Eternity or Prison Architect, some of the popular Kickstarter games to come out this year.

My point here is not to boast about who I've given money to, but to show the importance of supporting your favorite creators. You like what someone does and have a dollar a month? Give it to them, it helps them keep creating the content you like! Your backing can lead to big things. If you like something, you should support it whether it be music, video games or movies (pirating is bad!).

P.S I might add more to this as time goes on, we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Importance of Sound

     Sound design is something a lot of people take no notice of. Whether it be the soundtrack accompanying your epic journey through space, or the sound that is made when chipping away at a stone block. The eerie sound of disembodied footsteps following you down a narrow hallway, or a sinister voice, sounds can make or break a game.

     Video game sound is more important than you may think when it comes to ambiance. Setting a mood is a big part of devs portraying what they want. Playing a horror game without sound is completely different. No haunting groans, no creaky doors, or no squeaky floorboards would take a lot of the panic out of the game. PT is a good example of a game that utilizes sound in a good way, the baby crying, the footsteps, the slightly-staticky radio playing, the creaking doors. The sounds come together in a way that helps set a tone, it develops a creepy atmosphere. The music in a game can also have a huge effect on the player, a great musical accompaniment to an epic boss battle, again, can help set a mood. It can be associative too, just hearing the music of Zelda: Ocarina of Time brings back memories, whether it be working my way through the Lost Woods, or grabbing the Master Sword for the first time. Narration and voice acting also falls under sound design. Bad voice acting can ruin the immersion of a game (unless, of course, the voice acting is so laughably bad that it is just something to make fun of, in which case bad voice acting is good) while good voice acting can pull you into a story and help the experience. Take Bastion, for example, the narration of that game is genuinely cool, it helps set a mood that couldn't be reached with text-based dialog.

     Sound design helps a lot of games set a mood and establish an atmosphere, whether it be via music, ambient noises, or voice acting, sound can contribute a lot to a video game.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day One Patches

     Almost every game of this generation has had a day-one patch, The Witcher 3, MGSV, and even Halo 5: Guardians will have one. You'd think game devs would want to put out a finished product, but a game coming with a day one patch means it wasn't a finished product upon going "Gold". Day one patches have been upwards of 16gb (Sniper Elite 3 on Xbox One) and as small as a few hundred megabytes, regardless the download size of these patches, they are still bad, yet they're becoming normal.

     The normality is unsettling, these started as something harmless in earlier games like Skyrim (not necessarily the first to include one) and it has obviously grown into something more. Patches have grown larger and have started including more than just bug fixes, like THPS5 having entire game modes "patched in"(guess what, that's not a patch, that is a game, Activision) is there something more to day-one patches that we have yet to see? It is obvious that a large majority of games releasing this fall will include a patch that will release with the game, Halo, (probably not) Fallout 4, Star Wars Battlefront, and Tomb Raider being the biggest examples, (Note, the only game that is confirmed having a day-one patch is Halo).

     We as gamers should hold devs and publishers accountable for putting out a finished game and not a game that is kinda finished, but still needs a huge day-one patch. Not everyone has access to an internet connection, and if devs aren't putting out games that are complete, some people won't be able to experience a finished product. I would rather have a game be delayed by a month or two and get a complete experience, rather than being sold an incomplete game and being expected to wait longer to download a patch.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Destiny Offering Microtransactions


     On Oct. 13 Bungie will add "The Eververse" a new storefront including 18 emotes, all being completely optional. The currency you will buy these emotes with will be called "Silver" which will be able for purchase through your consoles associated store. Bungie will give you some free Silver to buy a few new emotes, and other than that they plan to "bolster the service our live team is offering
for another full year". AKA Microtransactions, though they are optional, it still sucks to see another game fall into this trend.

Addition: The fact that some of us have paid $140 for this game and they expect to charge us more for content is obscene. This seems like a gateway for something much, much worse. Like exclusives guns, armor, game modes, etc.

Metal Gear: The Phantom Pachinko

     Just when I thought Konami couldn't do much worse, they, of course, did. They removed Bomberman from iOS/Android respective app stores, which, at first glance, doesn't really seem like a big deal, but they have done something similar in the past with P.T. (SPECULATION) I call shenanigans! Bomberman probably wasn't making them money, so they pulled it to make room for a, you guessed it, pachinko machine.

     According to Kotaku, Konami has filed a "Big Boss" trademark, covering video games, board games, mobile games, and, of course, pachinko machines. Fantastic, another relic IP of video gaming lost to Konami's ignorance. Metalgearchinko 1 (AKA Greedy Snake) may not be the end of the true (I use that term loosely because the lack of Kojima) Meal Gear series, but it truly is a sign that Konami holds none of their games sacred, and I expect Castlevania is next.

Monday, September 28, 2015

SOMA: Horror Done Right

Minor story spoilers ahead, be wary, traveler.

     Frictional Games - the creators of the Amnesia and Penumbra series - released their newest horror game SOMA this week, and it is damn good. Though it doesn't follow the market by filling their game with jump scares and gore or terrifying pursuers to try and scare you, SOMA uses psychological horror and the game tackles some hard-to-portray topics very well. From a traditional "scary" sense, this game is good, but from a truly unsettling and frightening point-of-view, SOMA stands out above the others in this genre, though the game does have a few cliché horror tropes.

     Conveying a truly unsettling feeling is something a lot of horror games do wrong, but SOMA does so, so right; the setting in this game is really great. Going under a brain scan helmet in a present day "doctor's" office and waking up in a broken down, submerged lab sometime in the future is only the beginning of the creepiness. You soon learn that you wake up 100 years in the future, where humanity is all but wiped out and whatever people had remained after the disaster had their consciousness transferred into robots. What remains of this facility, though, are decrepit hallways, sinister AIs, and delusional robots - in one case, you meet a robot that actually thinks it is still human. As you go from sector to sector with your AI friend Catherine, avoiding the creatures that are out to get you, you learn more and more about what happened, why everything went haywire, and your fate as one of the last parts of humanity.

     The story of this game isn't something to be taken lightly, it some big issues that can be hard to portray, self-identity and humanity being the ones that stand out. The game has multiple situations in which you have to make big decisions that, at least in my case, you will question whether or not you did the right thing. Without spoilers, I made a choice that I seriously felt bad about, but couldn't take it back or reverse it. You often question "Is being a sentient robot that was a human actual humanity?" "Am I human?" The setting helps convey a story as well as the dialog and random notes/pictures you can inspect. Broken, rusted hallways, decrepit rooms that have been deserted for who knows how long, broken down, and moss covered AI just wondering the depths of the ocean show that, at one point, there was a thriving research community in this once great facility.

     SOMA is at it's best when you are not being actively pursued by some grotesque monster or a shambling robot though the scary parts are truly unnerving, exploring the dilapidated lab is where SOMA shines. Finding out more and more about the story and the fate of humanity and what will become of you. Some of the tropes take away from the experience to me. Oh, you're gonna get on this elevator? Well, I hope you know something will go wrong. Just completed an objective despite being tailed by an enemy? What a great time for a power outage. Those are minor complaints, though.

     Overall, SOMA is by far my favorite horror game, reasonable scares, a great story, and an amazing atmosphere make this game stand out. It stands out not when you aren't being pursued by a crazy robot, but when you are just exploring the history of the facility and what went wrong.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Games of the Year (So Far)


     2015 has been a great year for gaming, arguably one of the best ever. A few games stand out to me as the stars of 2015.

     The first, stand-out game of 2015 came pretty early in the year; Dying Light is one of the better zombie games out there and having never played Last of Us, it is my definitive zombie killing experience. The smooth, parkour-based movement really makes the navigation fun and the satisfying feeling of slicing a zombie in half with EXPcalibur is gruesome but awesome. The release date (Jan 27) helped this game stand out in an otherwise slow time of year. This game was just too long and the story was somewhat meh, along with a few other minor gripes I had with gameplay, these are the only downsides.

     Second on my list is the game that sold me a WiiU. Super Mario Maker is exactly what it sounds like, make your Mario level in the way you envision it. The easy-to-use design interface makes level creating fun, like the little things you can do to change enemies, like making them bigger by dragging a mushroom on to them, or stacking them to make a wall of Goombas. You can go all out and make a level filled with flying Koopas and giant Goombas bouncing off hundreds of springs, or you can make a level that is reminiscent of classic Mario games. This game is not perfect, though; the inability to filter out some types of levels makes the 10 or 100 Mario challenge somewhat frustrating, and you can't make classic Mario games (though you can try to build upon or replicate some).


     My next game will be a lot of outlet's Game of the Year (not mine for sure, though, I still have a lot to play) and is well deserving of the title. Hell, it might even be some people's Game of the Decade. This game is really fun, the stealth mechanics are tight, and the mission freedom makes for awesome strategies and different ways to beat. Emergent gameplay in this game is unmatched by anything out right now, and the endless combinations of gear and companions allow for taking a different approach to every mission. It felt a little grind-y, though, and it's having trouble keeping me in.


      The Witcher 3 is CD Projekt Red's crowning jewel. An expansive RPG with seemingly endless side quests and a great story backed by 2 other games and a few books. The characters are great, and even the city commoners have something to say about Geralt. The Ciri portions of the story added a different, quicker style of gameplay, and just when I was getting tired of the Geralt slow, methodical combat, a Ciri part would pop up. The deep, methodical combat is another reason this game stands out among the rest of the 2015 releases, but this game struggled to keep me in, and the skill tree seems to lack any truly meaningful skills.


     But, Devin, this game released in 2014! I know this, but The Taken King is a true reinventing of the skeleton of a game that was Destiny. Destiny 2.0 revamps the loot systems, missions, and UI. It added a ton of new content, including a new race, weapons, public events, a new area, new strikes, and a new raid. TTK is what Destiny should've been at launch, it comes with a lot of welcomed changes, and is as fun as always, the gunplay is truly unmatched by any other shooter on the market now. 

     Bloodborne, as of right now, is tied with The Taken King, mainly because once I beat Bloodborne for the first time, I felt no need to go and play NG+ like I did with Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2. Other than that, Bloodborne is really a masterpiece. The 3rd person action gameplay is better than anything else out there, it is fast and responsive. The trick weapons are really cool and add a depth to combat, as well. Enemy and boss design are terrifyingly awesome, and area design is ingenious, it is more comparable to Dark Souls, where there are interconnected areas and shortcuts that you wouldn't expect. I really look forward to getting the DLC in November. 

Honorable Mentions:
Shovel Knight: Though it came out last year, this year is when I played it on PS4 and Vita. A really good homage to classic action platformers. Its soundtrack is also fantastic

Apotheon: I've played a little bit of the story, but couldn't find the time to play more in depth. The local multiplayer is great, though.

King's Quest (Part 1): A fun puzzle/exploration game, great dialog and personality, albeit a little frustrating at times (I kind of suck at puzzle games, though.).

Monday, September 21, 2015

Destiny 2.0 (The Taken King)

     This weekend, me and a friend played through the entirety of Destiny 2.0, we played through vanilla, The Dark Below, The House of Wolves, and the reason I got back into Destiny; The Taken King. Now, I've put around 300 hours into vanilla and The Dark Below, but quickly fell out of it after beating Crota (The Dark Below raid boss), due to other games being released and the lack of content. Over the year we've had of Destiny, I've been addicted to playing, completely done with the game, and everything in between. The Taken King has once again roped me back into Destiny, and I'm sure I'll play for a lot longer.

     Playing through the entire game (raids and strikes NOT included) took me and a friend about 24 hours of play time. The new quests and dialog add new personality to Zavala, Ikora, and Cayde-6, the 3 class leaders, and it really shines in The Taken King, it seems Bungie added new life to these previously bland characters; they also gave the Ghost redux (Nolan North) more dialog. Ghost was missing in The Dark Below and House of Wolves, so hearing Nolan North's awesome performance as Ghost was a welcomed enhancement.
     The story of The Taken King is very obviously the best, a sinister end-boss with intentions of taking over the universe, complete with an army of Taken (basically every enemy in the game given a new, creepy look and new weapons and powers). The 3 class leaders play their biggest part in the story yet, with Eris Morn helping us along the way. The new mission design is great, taking us through old raids and giving us recycled mechanics to play through alone (recycled in a good way)

     The new Quest page in your pause menu adds a little bit more insight to the story, along with streamlining the mission system. Rather than simply unlocking the next mission right after beating the previous one, you hop back to the tower (still a process that takes slightly too long) and talk to Cayde-6, Zavala, Eris, Ikora, or any other leader, and gain a little insight as to why you're doing what you're doing. Bungie has also added a lot of new class-based quest, which consist of killing things or doing things under one of your subclasses. They've added a revamped UI complete with faction ranks; explanations of Strength, Intellect, and Discipline; new Bounties section, among other things. You can now turn bounties in without warping back to the Tower (this is fantastic). They've also given us more vault space, added ghost shells, emotes, artifacts, and useful class items. Along with all of those things, the Light system was revamped. Gone are the days of gaining levels with better gear, instead, levels 1-40 are earned by experience, as it should be. Light is now like WoW's and other MMO's "Item Level" system.

     The gameplay is as good as always and is arguably the best shooter out on the market right now, the new Warlock subclass is very fun, and the missions surrounding it are pretty good as well. The Dreadnaught (new area) is really interesting, with chests and other things needing keys in which I know nothing about, lot's of random events going on, like a war between Taken, Hive, and Cabal, and of course, the regular chest farming routes. Strikes, as always are fun team-based activities, but now they go by a lot quicker and give better rewards. Raiding, though I haven't done Prison of Elders or King's Fall, I highly anticipate increasing my Light level and finishing each of these raids.

     Overall, Destiny 2.0 (The Taken King Expansion) is filled with very welcome changes, improvements, and additions. The gameplay is as strong as always, and I'm sure with the additions of new weapons and mechanics, will only get increasingly better. The story was taken more seriously this time around, adding personality to characters that, before this release, were just bland merchants. The UI overhaul has helped streamline leveling and menu navigation and has also helped with questing. The new content is truly the best the game has to offer, the new story missions being fun and engaging, the strikes having new mechanics with bosses that aren't simple bullet-sponges. I look forward to putting many more hours into this game, The Taken King has roped me back in, and I'm not even mad.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Konami Quits Games (except PES)

     Konami announced earlier today that they were dropping out of AAA game publishing, except for their soccer game PES. This means a few things; no more Metal Gear Solid, no more Castlevania, and no more Silent Hill. Metal Gear Solid was their staple AAA game, and earlier this year, with the firing of Kojima, it seemed all was lost, and now with the director of the Fox Engine quitting along with this announcement, it seems to be the end of Metal Gear. Castlevania's last release was 2014, but its legacy still exists in Symphony of the Night (released in 1997 on the Playstation and Sega Saturn), and we will never have another true Castlevania. Silent Hill's latest game was to be directed by Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro, and the only thing we saw out of it was P.T which was taken off the Playstation Store and then Silent Hills was cancelled.

     What is to come of these beloved franchises, though? Should Konami make their last buck off of selling the rights to the games to other developers? Would Kojima buy the Metal Gear license and continue to iterate on the franchise and make even better games than we saw with Metal Gear Solid V? Should Igarashi buy Castlevania and make another game as good as Symphony of the Night? Should Guillermo Del Toro look to create a great Silent Hills movie? These are very unlikely, it is more likely for Konami to keep and bury these video games. Sadly, these licenses will probably live on through Pachinko machines and nostalgia.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Super Mario Maker

     This past weekend, I bought a WiiU, just for this game. I obviously had very high hopes going in, and really was not disappointed in the purchase; considering this is the first time I had bought an entire console for one game. Mario Maker is everything it sounds like it is, all of your classic memories of Mario, multiplied to the umpteenth degree with countless new levels and endless combinations of classic enemies, objects, and styles of map. Sadly though, the games largest appeal is also its greatest downfall.

     The level creation is open, you can design anything you want whether it be an iteration on a Ship level from Mario 3, your very own Automatic Mario stage, or a hell hole of Flying Koopas, springs, and invisible blocks; the combinations are almost infinite. It is really fun to create a map in your vision, and then see if you can beat your own map (you need to be able to beat it before you can publish it for others to play).

     The community designed levels are pretty fun, most of the time, with a lot of cool, off-the-wall designs, people really have put time into making the level they always wanted to play. Then there are the bad ones; blind-jumps, levels filled with enemies, instances where beating the level takes a jump that is so precise many won't get it, all with the allure of "I'll bet you can't beat this level," and yeah, that is fun, to an extent. For people trying to play the 10 or 100 Mario Challenge, these maps are just a waste of lives, and I wish there was a way for these -admittedly pretty unique- levels to be omitted from those two game modes.The unlock system in this game is pretty limiting (unless, of course, you just do the exploit). It makes you have to be in the Create mode for at least 5 minutes over a 9 day period, which honestly kind of sucks, if you wanted to jump in and create a Super Mario 3 level right off the bat, you're out of luck.
Aside: Don't get me wrong, the community levels that are super hard with precise jumps and stuff are fun and creative, but if I'm doing the 10 or 100 Mario Challenge, it's just not something I want. Yes, I know you can skip, regardless though, it is just something that is a slight quality-of-life thing.

     Overall though, everything that is "bad" about this game is easily looked over. The game is really fantastic and totally justifies my purchase of a WiiU, I look forward to making and uploading my own creations, and playing others' as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

GTA Freemode: Leaving Last-Gen Behind

     The newest GTA: Online update will drop on PS4, XBone, and PC on September 15. Notice anything weird there? If you didn't read the title, Rockstar is leaving behind last-gen consoles, this is a good thing. Though Rockstar didn't specify why they're leaving behind last-gen, one could assume it is due to graphical/processing limitations. This update brings in ambient, open world challenges with no lobbies, loading, or menus, they just pop up in the open world spontaneously (in this case, spontaneously means every 12 minutes or so). In the game's biggest update since Heists, Freemode adds 6 new and random game modes, where they will pop in -as previously specified- with no loading screens or lobbies.  You can opt in or out of these game modes seamlessly, which is pretty cool. This big update will also add the Rockstar Editor to PS4 and Xbone.

Metal Gear Solid V

     In the months leading up to release, Metal Gear Solid 5 seemed to by surrounded by controversy; Konami unexpectedly parting ways with the series's creator Hideo Kojima, removing P.T from the PSN Store and cancelling Silent Hills and removing Kojima's name from the box. Despite all of the bad things that happened around this game, Metal Gear Solid V emerged a great game. It is already the best-selling game in the franchise already selling three million copies, and surely will be a lot of people's Game of the Year (and deservingly so).
      A few days ago, it was revealed that the game had some cut content ( a whole chapter's worth of it) and it's believed that Konami didn't give Kojima enough time (and probably money) to finish his end-all-be-all Metal Gear. Even without the content, the game is still huge and has plenty to do. Build your base, gather resources, roam around Afghanistan and Africa looking for bases to take over and things to fulton back to Mother Base, among other, more violent things. This game is truly the shining star in the Metal Gear franchise gameplay-wise, but story wise it seems to fall short. Now, I'm not exactly engulfed by the story of Metal Gear and my knowledge of the overarching plot is minimal, so I can't attest to these complaints, but they seem to be brought up in every review and in other places among the internet, so there must be a problem. In the same article I mentioned earlier, it was shown that a final cutscene and act was missing, so that could be what is missing, story wise. 

     Gameplay is this game's shining star in the end. Controls are tight, and the stealth mechanics are very good. I don't play stealth games often because I suck at them, but this game has kept me in and interested, there are enough mechanics to approach every base in a different way, whether it be all stealth, or just a run and gun, kill everything strategy. The AI is good, although they seem to be a little, deaf, and blind (not really a bad thing), but they're better than any other stealth AI I have interacted with. The guns and gadgets you can unlock by building your R&D team and earning money are fun to experiment with too (C4 is my favorite because it's explodey and loud).

     Progression of unlocks, base building, companions, and everything else are what truly keeps me wanting to play this game. They're constant enough to make it feel like I'm achieving something even if I only take over one small outpost before flying back to mother base. Even though I haven't unlocked the good majority of gadgets and upgrades I look forward to spending the time to unlock and upgrade everything. Mission freedom in this game is really unmatched by any game out right now. Mission structure is basically "We need you to do this thing, do it in whatever way you deem necessary", really, you can approach the whole game with complete freedom.

      Only about 4% done with this game, I know I have a lot more to see and unlock, and I really look forward to sinking even more time into this game, as it is already a strong candidate for my Game of the Year, and it is already one of my favorite games of all time. Mission freedom and really great gameplay are where this game stands out and it is a shame that Konami didn't give Kojima means to finish his greatest game.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fallout 4 Season Pass Announced

     This morning Bethesda announced that Fallout 4 will drop with the option to buy a season pass that will cost $30, but here's the catch: not even they know what will be part of it. They assured people that it will be about $40 of DLC, like Skyrim, Oblivion, and Fallout 3, and that it will be coming early next year along with the Mod and Creation kit for PC. Bethesda will also be release regular updates like they did with Skyrim.

      Since Evolve and Arkham Knight, people haven't taken too kindly to devs announcing season passes before the game's release, and Fallout 4 seems to be the exception to this mistrust. I don't expect there to be an uproar because people trust Bethesda (unlike Turtle Rock and WBGames) and Bethesda hasn't really let us down with DLC before. Bethesda says in their blog "Since we're still hard at work on the game, we don't know we don't know what the actual DLC will be yet..." I like this approach, and even though I don't support season passes and won't be buying it, I still look forward to what Bethesda has to offer us.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Rocket League Report.

     As I type this there are 25,000 people Rocket League and it is number 14 on the Steam Concurrents chart, not bad for a game that didn't really have any publicity surrounding it (that is, before PSN backed it and made it a PS+ game). In an earlier post, I stated that I feared its longevity as a game, I thought people would eventually get bored of it. Well, I was kind of right and kind of wrong. I made a quick poll a few days ago regarding the play habits of about 250 people; the results were a little different than I had expected by I still was surprised by its outcome.  I had four different options: Every day, Every Few Days, Once a Week, and Almost Never.

     81 people (32%) said that they played every other day, this seems to be the people who like the game but also have dedicated time to bigger games. 72 people (29%) said that they played every day, more than I expected, but from what I heard, the people who did said that they had a dedicated team of friends they'd play with or that they hadn't got the platinum.  52 people (21%) said they played almost never, and 48 people (19%) said they played once a week (I fall into the almost never category). This seems to be attributed to the game being released at a great time. It was a good enough time after Witcher 3 and Arkham Knight, and before big games like Metal Gear Solid V and Mad Max. It was also free for PS+, which opened the game up to a lot of people that wouldn't have paid to play it. The results are saying that a lot of people play the game quite often but are showing a little bit of a drop off since the games release 2 months ago when the hype for this game was at maximum. This drop is natural, though, and the hardcore players will probably continue playing for a long time. There is also an eSports following, and the first MLG tournament was held 2 weeks ago, so, this game seemingly has some legs!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Games Go Digital

     Digital downloads have made new and old games easier than ever to play. No standing in line to wait for the midnight release of the latest Call of Duty, no worrying if your local game store has a copy of Ocarina of Time; digital downloads have opened the industry up in a lot of ways; any game you want, any time you want (taking into account download times), and sometimes, for way cheaper than you can get anywhere else. There are, however, a few downsides to digital-only gaming, the biggest, most noticeable one is limited storage space. Both new consoles only come with 500gb of storage, which, as of late, seems to consist of about 10 AAA games (realistically, depending on the games, could last years, but hey, who ONLY plays AAA titles...) Though, they both let you upgrade to larger HDD's, there will never be enough space. The other problem is licenses. Digital stores like Steam only sell you the license of the game, so they can take away that license regardless you paying or not. We saw Rockstar do this with GTAV and "cheaters", on man reported that he had been using mods offline, then got banned, and had his game license revoked, so he couldn't play the game he had purchased. He wouldn't have hit this snag had he bought a disc based version of the game. Another revoking we've seen is the P.T demo from the PSN Store: after the cancellation of Silent Hills, Konami pulled the demo from the store, and if you hadn't had it downloaded onto your PS4, you wouldn't be able to get it at all. The fact that game publishers can take away your rights to play their game is very bad, regardless the game being free or being $60.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

MKX Cancelled on Last Generation Consoles.

     Let's not act like we all didn't see this coming, MKX got cancelled on last gen consoles. Is this indicative of the industry moving forward into the current generation of consoles? Last generation consoles are relatively weak compared to their newer iterations, and the games coming out now are more graphically sound, and are asking more and more of consoles and PCs as time goes on. It takes a very optimized game to be able to run on last gen (we are seeing this with MGSV and the fact that it looks decent on PS3 and X360) and while I'm glad those two consoles haven't been phased out completely, I think it's time for devs and publishers to embrace the new consoles and make truly next gen games. I'm sure that PS3 and X360 will be supported for a few more years so those who haven't "upgraded" yet have time to move up and experience these new games on better consoles.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mobile, MOBAs, and Microtransactions

     I believe we (as gamers) have stepped into a new generation of gaming, or at least something similar to one. The mobile gaming environment may have inherently bred the microtransactions, and MOBAs have brought it to the more hardcore gamers. While mobile gaming is nickel and diming players, the MOBA aspect is purely aesthetic purchases. Regardless the way these games are utilizing microtransactions, it still isn't justifiable in my eyes.

     The mobile gaming microtransactions, while bad, aren't the worst form of them; devs put out games for free and need some way to monetize it. They basically play off peoples' impatience by saying "hey this is going to take 4 hours unless you give us a measly little $.99" and boom, you've spent money on a free game, their exact intent. This, to me, isn't the most effective way to make consistent money, but there are the "whales" that will pour a lot of money into the games like Age of War or Angry Birds 2.

     MOBAs, I think, brought microtransactions to bigger, more serious games. We see this in DOTA2, SMITE, Heroes of the Storm, LoL, and the like. Throughout these games, you can purchase skins, characters, and mounts. Some you can purchase with in-game currency, and things like skins and mounts are usually purchased with real money; some Heroes of the Storm characters are outrageously expensive at around $10. All MOBAs share a similar economy with each other, selling cosmetic items for real money, and other things for in-game currency. Regardless how harmless the cosmetic items may be to some people, others fall into the "haves and have-nots", which is basically jealousy; you see someone who looks really cool, and you want to look like them, so you buy the skin that they have. Small collectibles like DOTA2 hats are another way devs take advantage of the microtransaction system, and it plays on people wanting to get all of the collectibles (like Trophies or Achievements).

     The worst of these microtransactions are when a game charges the full $60 and still wants to nickel and dime you all the way through with them. Games like Assassins Creed Unity, Mortal Kombat X, Dead Space 3, GTA Online, and the newest offender, Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. Games like this - cleverly dubbed "Fee to Pay" by Jim Sterling - are really not okay, the devs say the purchases are optional, but no games have microtransactions because they don't want you to buy them, they're based off impatience, wanting to have everything, or just thinking something looks cool.

     These 3 things have started a new trend in gaming, and hopefully these things get better, or just go away entirely, though, in my opinion, some of these microtransactions are harmless cosmetic things.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Black Ops 3: Beta Impressions

Disclaimer: As it says in the title, this game is in Beta and everything in this write-up is subject to change.

     So, this weekend I got into the Black Ops 3 Multiplayer beta and, in short; it's pretty damn good. The mobility is great, gunplay is tight, and the new Specialists are great. I haven't bought a Call of Duty game since the previous Black Ops installment, but so far the beta has me hooked; zombies mode also helps the chances of me getting this game. The jetpack and wall running adds a depth to mobility that I haven't seen in a shooter in a very long time, and it is refreshing. It seems to add something new to the same shooters we've been getting yearly since 2009. The gunplay, though, is arguably the best of all the FPS games out right now. It is tight, responsive, and the guns feel great. They seem - from what I saw - more varied than the previous Call of Duty games. (Quick note: Black Ops 2 was the last Call of Duty I played, so I may be missing something in Ghosts and Advanced Warfare). Specialists seem to add another layer of strategy and help change up the gameplay a bit. They add different special weapons and abilities that help a person specialize in a certain character and truly master them while giving multiple options to everyone.
Overall I'm excited for Black Ops 3, it seems like a big jump for the series, being on of the first games to come from the three-year development cycle. Hopefully this is the first step to bigger, better Call of Duty games.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


     MOBA's are a newer, intense genre of video game that is quickly gaining a large following and player base. DOTA2 and League of Legends are the two prominent ones, with Heroes of the Storm and Smite rising in popularity and other mobile iterations having a smaller following (Vain Glory is probably the best and biggest mobile). DOTA 2 just had it's biggest ESports event, The International 5, League of Legends their ESports event LCS, and Heroes of the Storm has their competitions at Blizzcon, so there is obviously enough of a following to host huge events with millions of dollars in prizes.

     MOBAs seem like a hard genre to get into, and it is, but the easiest one to just pick up and play is Heroes of the Storm. Mechanics and objectives are very clear and often easy to grasp and it's very fun (if you're into that sort of thing) to play. HotS is overall a good introductory MOBA. If you're looking for a deeper game with more, deeper mechanics, you'll want to turn your vision towards DOTA2 and League of Legends. They're the most popular MOBAs and arguably the most complex, having deeper combat, more characters, and a store. Stores in MOBAs add a depth that is hard to grasp; it adds many different character builds and plenty of variety. If you just can't get enough of the intensity that is a MOBA, I would recommend Vain Glory, it's the deepest and best MOBA on iPhone, if you're looking for a more simple one, The Witcher Battle Arena is pretty good as well.

     MOBAs are  quickly rising in popularity (if they aren't already popular enough). Though the deep mechanics and complex strategies seem to be the main deterrent for new adopters, but the fun gameplay and intense matches will definitely pull you in.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Nostalgia in Gaming

        Have you ever sat thinking "Maybe I should hook up my NES and see if Mario Bro's works..", or even your PS3 or XBOX 360! Nostalgia plays a big part in our gaming preferences and publishers often play off of it to market remakes or even new IPs. Reliving our childhood years and playing old games is something we all want to do, and most of the time, it is good from a nostalgic standpoint, though some games don't really age all too well (I'm looking at you, Nintendo 64 collect-a-thon games!) Even if they don't age too well, it's still fun to go and see how you remember the games and how they hold up. These games, though, aren't always as good as we remember them, and we have to realize that though some of the older, childhood classics we loved didn't stand the test of time and that the majority of new games are better than old ones. This isn't the case for every game, because a lot of old games still look and play beautifully, and really have held up. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Late Expansions

     Recently, a new expansion for Diablo 3 (released in 2012) was rumored because of a job listing Blizzard posted. Diablo 3 being more than 3 years old, I find this weird, a major patch and possible expansion coming so late into the game's life cycle. Though the player base has seemingly been slowly declining, Blizzard still supports this game, giving regular content and balance patches; this is 3 years in and this is super unorthodox for a game like this, late-lifecycle support seems to occur only in MOBAs and MMOs. We've also seen this in GTAV with the multiple releases on all platforms and patches for the online aspect adding heists and content regularly; Rockstar still hasn't dropped hints of a legitimate expansion.
Aside: This extended support for games is by no means a bad thing. Whether it is extending the dev period of a new game or sequel, or just support because it's what the players want, there are very few ways in which this could turn bad.
Is this a rising trend? We see games like Destiny or Street Fighter 5 having "Ten-year plans" or being turned into something like a platform. I think this platform movement is a great thing; yearly releases like Call of Duty could easily be turned into a platform, with the occasional $30 expansion or $10 DLC. Really, any annualized games could really be given this treatment in different ways.

     I, for one, embrace this new expansion timing, especially if it means longer dev cycles and better, non-broken day one's for games; seriously, the broken game releases are getting a little out of hand.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ESports: A Rising Industry

     ESports, a rising movement in the gaming industry, is quickly growing in popularity, and this past weekend, the biggest tournament in ESports took place, The International 5, or TI5 where the focus game of this tournament is DOTA2, a very popular MOBA from Valve Software, and literally millions of dollars are at stake. ESports is quickly becoming a legitimate sport with teams, drafts, salaries, trades, and big budgets, just like conventional sports teams. Even ESPN has given ESports airtime, covering games like DOTA and Heroes of the Storm; the adoption of the rising medium for gaming has come with some hate, though, and was even criticized by popular sports radio voice Colin Cowherd.

     ESports is a very legitimate and growing industry with millions of dollars being spent and won. TI5's prize pool topped out at more than $18 Million, and $16 Million of that was raised by the DOTA2 community, this says a lot, because there is obviously a massive following and appeal. With the money, audience, and rising popularity of ESports getting bigger and bigger by the year - despite the hate ESports get from the sport "purists" - I suspect the industry will thrive, and grow even further as a legitimate sport.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Rating the Souls Games

     The Souls series (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and Bloodborne) is arguably my favorite game series of all time, and I obviously have my favorites, though they are all great games. The replay value is great, the difficulty is punishing, yet rewarding But, this list will be in the order of my least favorite to my favorite.

4. Demon's Souls:

     Though I do respect its influence on the series, and I like the dark setting of the game,  I just haven't played it enough to have a legitimate opinion on it. The controls just didn't hit it for me, and I just felt no need to play it.

3. Dark Souls 2:

     I have played the shit out of this game because it is a great game, but I think it is a bad sequel. The mechanics were solid, the replay value was great, there are plentiful weapons (I think that is a downfall, but can also add to build variety), and good environments (again, a double-edged sword). The lore in this game seemed like it was unfinished (and this was almost proven in SOTFS edition, which I haven't really delved into too much) and the areas seemed disconnected geographically and design wise. It almost seems like a Demon's Souls style of Hub-Zone and different portals to other worlds, which I don't like.

2. Bloodborne:

     Let me start off with saying that this game is damn good. The gameplay is the tightest of all, the lore is great and deep, the art style and level design is great, the enemy design is great, it's an almost perfect game. Where this game falls short, though, and why it's not number one on my list is its replay value. While trick weapons add depth to the combat, there is not many of them, and the lack of weapons take away from the replay value. There is a very strong meta that basically makes one weapon the most viable for a build (that is just how I feel, sorry if that upsets you (actually not really that sorry, this is an opinion piece)) and that takes away from replayability.

1. Dark Souls:

     This game is in my top 3 favorite games of all time, the design and inter-connectivity of the world is great, the enemies look cool, there are plenty of weapons and armors to build your characters around, and the bosses are spectacular. Also, the lore and the story is ambiguous, but not to the point of being unintelligible. The covenants were functional and fun to be a part of and they added a depth to PvP that made being in a covenant feel worth it.  Also, Solaire (Praise the Sun \[T]/).

Friday, August 7, 2015

RETROspect: Super Metroid

   Super Metroid released in 1994 on the SNES, and is a sequel to Metroid and Metroid 2 -combined they have only sold 4.5 million units so nothing groundbreaking in Nintendo terms, super Metroid sold even worse than the two, though. I played this game for the first time over this weekend, and I was amazed that I had never experienced before. The music, gameplay, the pace of progression, map design, and basically everything else about this game is great. Where it shines, though, truly, is its legacy. Along with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, this game helped coined the term "Metroidvania" a type of game which standouts by its large, singular map where progression comes with unlocking new weapons, perks, or the like, and gaining access to new parts of the map.
You can see Metroidvania influences in a lot of modern games, like Dark Souls (map connectivity, non-linearity) and Batman Arkham Asylum (progression tied to getting new equipment), among others.

     Public demand for a new classic Metroid game seems to be pretty high though it could just be a vocal minority. I don't think it would be very lucrative decision on Nintendo's end because of game development costs being so high and the relatively low sales (just under 17 million copies across all the games), but, those lower sales could just be telling of the times. It would be pretty cool to have a new Metroid game in the classic style, although it may not appeal to the younger audience of Nintendo, it would still bring back the millennials that played and loved Metroid.

     Overall, my experience with Super Metroid was very good, retrospectively,(I did it! I did the thing!) I can see how this game has influenced the industry and the games, and I can see where games have taken from this one.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fallout 4: Gamescom Report.

     Today at Gamescom Bethesda announced that Fallout 4 had no level cap, that the game didn't end after you beat the main story. This is good news, it is hopefully saying that there is an "endgame" of sorts, or just more content, a la Witcher: Wild Hunt. Hopefully, it shows that many hours will be added to the game post-story because that is something I believe many people are looking for these days; bang for your buck. Bethesda also said that the shooting will be better, there will be bigger battles, and combat will be less clunky, which will be a great improvement on Fallout 3/NV.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Destiny Drops Dinklage

     This week, Game Informer reported that Destiny developers Bungie was dropping Peter Dinklage's dialog as Ghost, your know-it-all companion. Dinklage did was the first casted as Ghost, and we all thought he'd be the only one, even though the community wasn't too impressed with the way he sounds. The majority of people thought his performance was drab and sounded phoned in (I didn't think it was bad, but it wasn't the best).

     Bungie's replacement for Dinklage is Nolan North, best known for voicing Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series though he also voiced The Penguin in Batman: Arkham Knight. Bungie and North are re-recording every piece of dialog in Destiny and will be patched in on September 15 along with The Taken King expansion.

     This is a very weird happening, I can't find any examples of a main character's dialog being completely re-recorded post-release. Is this a sign of a broken relationship between Dinklage and Bungie? Possibly, but probably not. It's likely that Dinklage, with his Game of Thrones and his other movies, is just too busy to record anything of quality for Bungie. Still though, as much as I like Nolan North, Dinklebot will be no more.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Konami: What the Hell is Going On?

     So, over the last few months I've been following the events going down at Konami, and in short, I think it's the nail in the coffin for their gaming branch. They fired the director and creator of Metal Gear Solid, their flagship game, Hideo Kojima. Cancelled games, removed credits, and shoddy PR came with letting go of Kojima. At first, relations seemed okay because he is still working on MGSV and seemingly had another project (Silent Hills (P.T) Guillermo Del Toro and Kojima's reboot of the horror franchise) in the works. But, Silent Hills was cancelled and P.T was removed from PSN entirely.
Aside: Why was this bad? It shows that some shady stuff is going on behind the scenes at Konami. The complete removal of a game from a digital download service like PSN shows the power of publishers over the service, too. Essentially, publishers took away the rights of a purchased game (despite being free) and that's kind of a big deal, because like, what if the game had cost money? Shits bad, yo.
Even if you had purchased the game and had it in your library you couldn't play it (if it was downloaded on your PS4, I hope you didn't delete it).
     Just recently, though, I think the industry has seen Konami's true colors; they removed Kojima's name entirely from the cover of MGSV even though it is his game, and sources say his name isn't (or won't be) in the credits. Yesterday, a report out of Nikkei (Japanese website) says that employees are treated like prisoners: complete with monitoring lunches, no internet connection, and public shaming. The article says that the less capable devs are getting reassigned to jobs like security guard or janitor.
     People, like myself, are wondering what acutally happened between Konami and Kojima. Let's face it though, there's a high chance that Konami wasn't paying Kojima what he needed to make the game he wants to, I guess we'll see in September when MGS drops. Also, there's a small chance that this is just another one of Kojima's publicity stunts, I'm sure that is what we are all hoping for.